Growing Tomatillo

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
    S   P              

(Best months for growing Tomatillo in USA - Zone 5a regions)

S = Plant undercover in seed trays P = Sow seed

  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 21°C and 27°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 70 cm apart
  • Harvest in 10-14 weeks. Husk splits when fruit is ripe..
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Will happily grow in a flower border
  • Tomatillo Plant (CC BY-SA 3.0 WikiMedia)
  • Young tomatillo

NB Tomatillos are not self-fertile so you need to have at least two plants for cross-pollination. Tomatillos are from the same family as Cape Gooseberries, with a papery husk round the fruit.

Tomatillo plants are similar in growth to tomatoes and spread about 1 -1.5m . Can be supported but are happy spreading themselves around. The plants are very productive so 2 or 3 plants may be enough for the average household.

Tomatillos will cope with cooler weather than tomatoes. The fruit will swell to fill the husk as they ripen. Do not use fertiliser.

When buying seed, check that it is Ph. ixocarpa not Ph.peruviana otherwise you will grow Cape Gooseberries instead of Tomatillos.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Tomatillo

Use in spicy sauces with or to replace tomatoes.
They are the base of salsa verde in Mexican cookery.

Your comments and tips

24 Apr 21, Judy (USA - Zone 9b climate)
Hello , I live In Northern California .Our location is Inland from Ocean. We do get plenty of sun in summer months into October . Do I need to cover gooseberry in afternoon heat ? I got this plant from a friend .I am learning about this Gooseberry Tomato. I want to know whether I can grow this plant behind another taller Purple Tomatillo in a separate barrel about 2 feet away and achieve cross pollination successfully ? Thank you ,Judy
28 Apr 21, Anonymous (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Plants need to be planted at the right time of the year. If it is really hot then they will need more watering (if they can take the heat), like each day not each 2-3 days. If you want cross pollination then you need to plant at the same time if close together. A tall plant will shade a smaller plant and it will not grow well, end up thin and weak. I don't know if you can cross gooseberry with tomatillo. I answer questions here and I'm just a home gardener who grows about 20 different vegies.
26 Dec 20, Phil Rodwell (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Free tomatillos from seed abt 7 years ago...this year they've grown to about 0.5m but all the leaves at the top of the main stems have started to shrivel and growth seems to have stopped. Any suggestions? I've planted fresh seed but it's December 26 so it may be a bit late.
30 Dec 20, (Australia - temperate climate)
Shriveling could be from hot sun, dry soil or fungi/disease. Suggested time to plant Sept-Oct.
08 Aug 20, Heather (Canada - Zone 5a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
Do you have to have 2 plants in order for it to produce fruit?
14 Oct 20, Mjar (USA - Zone 8b climate)
yes, these plants need a partner to pollinate, I have found 4 plants is a good sweet spot to get enough tomatillos to do some sauce making (Salsa Verde) . I hope you found your answer already as it's now so late in the season! Good Luck.
06 May 20, Suzanne (South Africa - Humid sub-tropical climate)
Seeds can be bought through www.glenseeds.co.za they have both the green and purple varieties.
26 Mar 20, Robin Duval-Smith (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Compared with a cape gooseberry which I have, how large does a single fruit of tomatillo grow? Is it rich in vitamin C...what other food values?
01 Apr 20, Anon (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Check on the internet.
22 Sep 19, June (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
I am interested in either tomatillo plants or seeds. I am on the eastern side of Jhb.
Showing 1 - 10 of 93 comments

Tomatillos have done well here in Texas, which is extremely hot and dry. I grow them in the summer, and they seem to do well in temperatures over 39 degrees Celsius. Humidity does not bother them, but pruning lower branches helps prevent rot.

- Marie

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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